Hydrogen used to produce architectural glass in world first trial


Pilkington has successfully used hydrogen power to manufacture architectural glass at its St Helens facility in a world-first trial.

On 31 August, Pilkington set out how the trial has marked a key step in its plans to decarbonise and could pave the way for it to transition to use hydrogen to power all production at its site, which currently uses natural gas. It has meant that its float glass furnace, which makes up the majority of its overall carbon emissions, can run with substantially lower emissions.

The aim of the trial was to demonstrate that the furnace could safely run at full production without impacting product quality. Running for three weeks, the trial saw the float glass line use around 60 road tankers of hydrogen, though over the longer-term, the plan would be to create a network of hydrogen pipelines to supply key industrial sites, avoiding any need for road transport. The trial has formed part of the HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching project to decarbonise industrial processes across the North West, which is set to cut around 10mn tonnes of carbon per year by 2030.

Matt Buckley, UK MD of Pilkington, said the trial was a “significant success” with a seamless transition achieved between the two different fuels.

Buckley continued: “It proves that hydrogen is just as capable as natural gas in achieving excellent melting performance, and that it could be possible to operate the furnace with vastly reduced carbon emissions. Decarbonisation of the construction supply chain is a vital part of the UK’s ambition to achieve net-zero by 2050, and the ability to produce float glass in this way is an important step in this journey.”